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Octopus Energy accept investment from power group involved in coal power generation and fracking

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By Christopher Appleby
Jun 25, 2020

As a customer it’s vital that you’re able to trust your energy supplier. You need to be confident that the energy you’re buying is what it’s advertised to be, and comes from the sources you expect.

When it comes to green energy, there are actually a few different ‘shades of green’ to be aware of. A recent Which? study, How green is your energy tariff? illustrates the difference between “light green” companies that simply “buy electricity on the wholesale market” and “deep green” companies that “consistently generate enough renewable electricity themselves”.

On top of that, there’s also the question of who owns those companies, where their money comes from and where the profits from their ‘green’ tariffs end up.

Octopus Energy receive funding from Origin Energy

Octopus Energy have sold off a 20 per cent stake to Origin Energy, an Australian power group that owns a large coal-fired power station, exports liquid natural gas and is currently looking to frack for shale gas in Australia’s Northern Territories.

Ecotricity founder, Dale Vince explains:

“It’s clear that this is a disappointing investment choice for a company that promotes itself with the phrase “energy that’s good for the planet. […] Octopus have habit of presenting themselves as greener than they really are – something that Which? exposed in their recent survey of greenwashing in the energy industry.”

That Which? study found that many so-called ‘green’ energy companies may not be as environmentally friendly as they appear. While a third of energy customers believe they’re being supplied with 100% green energy, in fact Ecotricity are only one of two deep green energy suppliers in the UK.

Friends of the Earth stand by their ethical and environmental principles

Friends of the Earth, one of our closest business partners, therefore made the brave decision to sever their relationship with energy supplier, Octopus Energy.

The recent news regarding the investment understandably put Friends of the Earth in a difficult position and we applaud the way in which they tackled this conflict of interest. As we’ve come to expect, they stuck to their principles regarding climate change and the energy industry and made their reasons behind their decision clear.

“We felt that Octopus could play a key role in advancing the take-up of renewable energy in Britain – a key part of ending our reliance on coal, oil and gas and tackling climate breakdown. […] Although we acknowledge that Octopus Energy is part of the largest group to invest in solar energy in the UK, the new investment is too much of a direct conflict with the vision and mission of Friends of the Earth.”

Read Friends of the Earth’s full statement here.

Climate change – looking at the bigger picture

Friends of the Earth’s ethical decision is part of a bigger picture and Octopus Energy’s decision is unfortunately not uncommon in the energy industry.

Although many energy suppliers advertise ‘green energy tariffs’ and make renewable claims, a recent Which? Survey found that only four companies (including Ecotricity, of course) own renewable generation such as solar parks or wind farms.

Ecotricity’s unique model called bills-into-mills means we use our customers’ bill money to invest in new sources of green energy. Whereas many other suppliers get their green status by simply buying certificates. As our founder, Dale Vince, says, this “gives the illusion of greenness to customers which can be misleading”.

You can read all about this and how energy companies are (or are not) supporting renewable energy generation here.

Our partnership with Friends of the Earth

Ecotricity have worked closely with Friends of the Earth since 2011 and we’ve been involved in some important campaigns, like the long fight to end fracking in the UK and the annual Great British Bee Count. Our shared mission is to bring about a future in which green energy is the major source of power for the country’s needs.

So far, our energy switching partnership has saved over 750 tonnes of CO2 from entering the Earth’s atmosphere, nearly the same as driving four million miles in an average car. We’ve also raised tens of thousands of pounds for Friends of the Earth, helping to make a real difference towards a fair and sustainable future.

Join Ecotricity and help support Friends of the Earth

Together, our fight continues for a greener Britain. When you join Ecotricity, Britain’s greenest energy company today, we’ll make a donation of £50* to Friends of the Earth -and we’ll donate another £50 for every year you remain a customer.

Call us on 0808 123 0123 and quote “FOE” or click on the link below. 

Switch to Ecotricity

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